Task force inquires about Tempe PD recruitment, hiring, training practices

Public Safety Advisory Task Force looks into police practices during initial meeting on Oct. 13. -City of Tempe photo

A panel of community leaders convened by new Tempe Mayor Corey Woods wanted to know about basic operations of the Police Department during the initial three-hour meeting of the Public Safety Advisory Task Force on Oct. 13.

“The great thing was that there were lots of conversations about hiring and recruitment,” Woods said. “We talked about some baseline data from our community surveys, how we collect data, what data we collect, how our training is done and how we attract a diverse applicant pool.

“The task force would like more data on what kinds of training our officers get, and how often that training is given again or reinforced. What kind of support are we providing our officers in terms of emotional well-being, because they see traumatic situations on a regular basis? What are we doing to assist them?”

Task force participants include Keisha Acton, Dr. Robbie Adler-Tapia, Arlene Chin, Suzanne Durkin-Bighorn, Melody Elkin, Hassan Ellsaad, Pam Goronkin, Dr. Raquel Gutierrez, Viri Hernandez, Patti Hibbeler, Alana Chávez Langdon, Shereen Lerner, Jacob Moore, Jon Mulford, Randy Perez, Jacob Raiford, Sue Ringler, Rabbi Dean Shapiro, Michael Soto, Roy Tatem, Jr., Genevieve Vega and Janelle Wood.

They were selected for their contributions to Tempe or regional organizations, businesses or affiliations, according to the mayor. They represent diverse values and opinions that are reflective of the community.

Tempe City Manager Andrew Ching

Also on the panel are Tempe Vice Mayor Randy Keating, Council member Lauren Kuby, City Manager Andrew Ching, Interim Police Chief Jeff Glover, Asst. Chief Michael Pooley, Tempe Officers Association President Rob Ferraro and city staff.

Staff members will spend the next two weeks gathering data to answer initial questions from the task force.

“In a nutshell, our staff is going to gather all of the questions and the data requests and then come back for those second and third meetings and be prepared to have a really thoughtful conversation with the task force members,” Woods said. “We’ve got a really impressive Strategic Planning Division in the city of Tempe and also our Diversity and Inclusion Department. The’yre going to be the ones to take all of the information that they got during the course of the meeting and really synthesize that and then of course go back to the appropriate department, whether it’s police or even human services, and bring that information back to the group so we can have a really robust conversation.”

During the final five meetings of the task force, participants will focus on policies, hiring, use of technologies, training, data and how the city engages with people who are Black, Indigenous, people of color, people experiencing homelessness and those with mental-health challenges.

The next meeting is 4-7 p.m. Oct. 28, to be followed by meetings on Nov. 4, Nov. 10, Dec. 2 and Dec. 21. Meetings are conducted virtually and are not be open to the public. Video recordings will be broadcast after each meeting on Tempe 11 and at tempe.gov/PublicSafetyAdvisoryTaskForce.

“I sincerely appreciate the members of the task force,” Woods said. “You’ve got 20-plus members of our community of Tempe and the greater East Valley taking part in six meetings that are going to be three hours each and they’re doing this all on a volunteer basis because they are passionate about the subject and want to help develop a blueprint and strategic roadmap for the future. I appreciate their time and their service.”

Completion of a strategic plan is expected in January 2021.

Community members may comment on the draft plan created by the task force during public meetings in early 2021. Community members also may provide ideas and ask questions by emailing PublicSafetyAdvisoryTaskForce@tempe.gov or by calling mayoral aide Brianne Fisher at 480-350-8959.

The Tempe Police Department has suffered negative public feedback the past couple of years over its aggressive response to several high-profile incidents. Last month, Police Chief Sylvia Moir agreed to resign. Woods said shortly after his July inauguration that he believed some reforms were needed within the department and he convened this task force to study what might be changed.

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